HBO Max and Discovery+ to Go Global Together

Warner Bros Discovery will merge Discovery+ and HBO Max into a single streaming platform internationally, Variety reports.

“Sources tell Variety that Discovery and AT&T’s WarnerMedia — which are expected to merge in the next month — plan to have one single global platform that will combine the two streaming services, as opposed to a market-by-market approach for international.”

But it’s still unclear what this will mean for NZ, given last August Sky not only renewed but also expanded its WarnerMedia multi-year deal that makes it the exclusive home of HBO in NZ (although Discovery NZ executives are excited about what the merger means for their operation).

The Variety report signals that the new venture will look at other means of adding value in markets where existing HBO licenses will preclude an HBO Max service, such as the UK, where’s Sky’s HBO rights don’t expire until 2025.

The CFO of the newly combined Warner Bros. Discovery, Gunnar Wiedenfels, suggested in a conference call that sports rights will be a crucial pillar for the combined service in the UK, citing the “opportunity for a combined sports and Discovery Plus package at a time when HBO Max is still encumbered by long-term licensing deals”.

These deals affect not only NZ and Australia but also markets as pivotal as Germany and Italy (WarnerMedia has confirmed there won’t be an HBO Max in these territories until the Sky deals end two years from now).

Last year Bloomberg described the Sky deal as “an example of the tangled international rights that HBO Max is navigating as it tries to catch up with Netflix and Disney+ around the world.

“The Sky agreement has been lucrative for its parent, WarnerMedia. But analysts say it threatens to slow down HBO Max in a fast-moving global race for streaming domination.”

This, of course, was before the merger with Discovery and the joint global clout the two giants will have to exploit the advantages streaming internationally holds for them over linear markets.

“Direct to consumer internationally is going to be an exponentially better business for us than the linear world, because we’re coming from a market that has so far been defined in some countries as 15 per cent-20 per cent of households [having] pay TV, and we had a share of that market,” Wiedenfels says.

“Now, all of a sudden, with direct to consumer, you’re able to address essentially the entire population, and from a distribution partnership perspective, you’re opening yourself up to mobile distributors etcetera.”

Subscription costs for the new platform have yet to be revealed but ad-free and ad-lite models will be available.

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8 Responses to “HBO Max and Discovery+ to Go Global Together”

  1. Warning: preg_replace(): Unknown modifier '/' in /home/customer/www/ on line 66
    March 16, 2022 at 11:05 am

    WOW, so interesting. I think Sky will have to step aside and let Warner Bros. Discovery have their shows and movies back ?

  2. Why? Sky currently own the rights to the HBO/WarnerMedia/Discovery content and have every right to leverage them.

  3. It sounds like Warner Bros. Discovery will be going around the world at the same time even in countries that have a Sky, there are ways around it ?

  4. Here’s an intriguing quote from a top HBO European executive in response to The Hollywood Reporter last month asking if HBO Max could eventually launch in Sky markets, such as the UK, German and Italy, where Sky is the home of HBO: “We have been working with licensing for years and have a very, very strong relationship with Sky and players in other markets. So that is something we really cherish because we want our stories out there. But we always evaluate market by market. We will always evaluate that as part of our strategy depending on timing, technology and resources and what feels right for the company.”

  5. NZ is getting to our head passed saturation point, that’s why we’ll never have Hulu or Paramount+. It probably isn’t and never likely to be in Discovery/WarnerMedia’s best interest to put a pay wall up for HBO content here, especially with Neon’s (unless they buy them out) subscription penetration.

  6. That does sound intriguing Philip, perhaps that’s why the owners of Discovery NZ are feeling excited for the possibility of Warner Bros. Discovery. I wonder if negotiations are going on behind the scenes ?

  7. YAY, Roger from What’s On Disney Plus thinks Warner Bros. Discovery will make some sort of deal with countries that have Sky to get Warner Bros. Discovery. I do as well ?

  8. I read on Twitter the date April 11th is the day when Warner Bros. Discovery becomes official. I guess we will hear news around that time as to what will happen. So exciting ?

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